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Records of Traditional Watercraft from South and West Sri LankaGerhard Kapitän, Gerald Grainge and Somasiri Devendra 2009 © BAR Publishing
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Gerhard Kapitän, born in Meissen (Dresden, Germany) on the 23rd April 1924, is a scholar whose main field of study is maritime archaeology and ethnography. This book is Gerhard Kapitän's inventory of traditional Sri Lankan watercraft and his great achievement. Prepared for publication by Gerald Grainge, in association with Somasiri Devendra, the volume represents Kapitän's collection of scale drawings and photographs of traditional watercraft from west and south Sri Lanka. The material submitted consisted of Kapitän's drawings, photographs and captions – still the centrepiece of the book – together with a brief introductory overview by the author (Chapter 2) and an early draft of his classification of the watercraft of Sri Lanka (Chapter 4) along with brief notes on each of the drawings. The editor has written up a brief introductory comment to each of the chapters, based on what Gerhard Kapitän had previously published. Kapitän passionately believed in the importance of the traditional watercraft of Sri Lanka in terms of heritage, not only for Sri Lanka, but for the world. His vision of a maritime museum to preserve these craft was realized in 1992 in the old Dutch warehouse, situated near the Old Gate of Galle Fort, but unfortunately it was devastated by the 2004 tsunami. This volume, an important contribution to nautical archaeology, presents a unique record of the traditional craft that plied, and in many cases still plies, around the coastal waters of Sri Lanka.